Thursday, December 6, 2007

Winding Down

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Opryland Hotel is quickly turning into a ghost town. Bill Smith and most of the Twins’ staff is staying until Friday, but there might be only one or two other teams still here.

Smith just spoke about his week, and the gathering with reporters could best be described as “drowsy.” Everybody is exhausted after four straight 18-hour days.

Smith didn’t sound disappointed, exactly, that no transactions had been completed this week, but I think he was a little surprised that all the momentum from last weekend dissipated so quickly. The new GM said this week was helpful, that it's much easier to talk in person than on the phone or via email, but that didn't change the outcome. He also said progress was made on more than just the Johan Santana negotiations.

His phone is still on, he said, so things could change. But it's clear there isn't much talking going on now. If something is going to happen on the Santana front, it doesn’t look like it’ll be this week.

-- Phil Miller

Rule 5: Minus 6

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Right from the start, the Rule 5 draft was an unusual one for the Twins. Tampa Bay selected Rochester pitcher Tim Lahey with the first pick, and the scavenging of Minnesota’s organization had begun.

By the time the draft -- actually drafts, since Triple-A and Double-A drafts are held immediately after the major-league portion -- ended a half-hour later, the Twins had lost six players out of their system, more than any other team, while adding nobody. Minnesota ended up with the 11th pick (teams had to have fewer than 40 players on their major-league roster), but when the player they had intended to select was taken ahead of them, the Twins ended up being the first team to pass.

But teams couldn’t pass up the Twins’ eligible players. After Lahey, who went 8-4 with 13 saves in Class AA New Britain’s bullpen before being called up to Rochester in August, was taken by the Rays (and immediatelyl sold to the Cubs), the Twins watched as Seattle chose pitcher R.A. Dickey and Washington took outfielder Garrett Guzman. Dickey, a veteran knuckleballer who was Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year last season for Nashville, had just been signed by the Twins last week. Guzman batted .314 for New Britain.

In the Triple-A phase, the first two players picked were both Twins prospects, outfielder Rashad Eldridge by Tampa Bay and right-handed pitcher Joshua Hill by Pittsburgh. Both played for New Britain in 2007. In the Double-A phase, Fort Myers right-hander Jonathan Martinez was selected by Baltimore. The Twins passed again in both rounds.

“It’s a glass-half-full sort of thing,” said Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff. “We’re disappointed to lose players we’ve invested in, but it means we have talent in our organization.”

Six-year veterans who are not on major-league rosters are eligible to be drafted.

In other news -- well, there's no news, not on Johan Santana's status. But it's early.

-- Phil Miller